Rima Al-Mukhtar, [email protected]
Publication Date: 
Wed, 2010-08-25 04:31

Children usually dress in traditional clothes and go around the neighborhood in groups holding small bags and singing special songs. Gergean is held on the 13th, 14th or the 15th of Ramadan when the moon is full.
“Gergean is like our own version of Halloween, but without the scary part. Children go from one house to another and knock on neighbors’ doors asking for candy and nuts,” said citizen Mariam Jaffar.
“Children love it and they run around the neighborhood playing games with each other when they are done knocking on doors. They also get to show off their candy to each other. It’s like a holiday made especially for children to help them through their fast and encourage them to fast every year.”
Gergean is a tradition that has traveled all the way from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia, according to Saudi citizen Ruqayya Abdul-Majeed.
“My great grandfather went to Kuwait many years ago to do business and he married a Kuwaiti woman there and brought her back to Dhahran. When she moved to Saudi she started the Gergean tradition and it spread among her family, neighbors and friends,” she said.
“Now we are celebrating it every Ramadan and my grandchildren are teaching it to their kids. I hope they hold on to this tradition for life and keep it alive.”
Gergean literally means, “knocking” as children used to spend hours going from door-to-door to collect candy.
Now children do not even leave the house to celebrate Gergean, they gather with family and friends indoors.
“The cities are getting bigger and many strangers are now living among us. We believe that it’s not safe anymore for our children to roam the streets and knock on doors,” said Saudi parent Mohammed Ali.
“We decided to keep the tradition and just add a little twist to it by inviting all our friends and family along with their children to celebrate together in a big house and still enjoy Gergean in a safe environment.”
According to fellow Saudi Ahmed Zakarati, children look forward to Gergean night because they only eat sweets and receive gifts from their family.
“When I was young, I used to fast the first 15 days to show my parents how good I am, so when Gergean night comes I get a nice gift, which I show off to my friends the next day,” he said.
“Looking back at those days, I feel happy that I learned how to fast during Ramadan from an early age. It wasn’t hard for me and the fact that my parents acknowledged that made it much more special.
For years this festival was mainly celebrated in the Eastern Province, but now Saudis from the west are also enjoying Gergean.
“When I got married I moved from Jeddah to Dammam. I was introduced to the Gergean tradition there from my neighbors there and I loved it. I then decided to get my family and friends from Jeddah involved and start this tradition in the west side,” said citizen Sara Abdoun.
“My friends and family in Jeddah has been celebrating Gergean for seven years now and I believe it’s spreading.” Holding on to old traditions is what makes Ramadan special for most people. “I believe Ramadan will never be the same without having Vimto on the table. Although we can buy it from every supermarket all year round, I never do. I only buy and drink it during Ramadan,” said Saudi citizen Nada Al-Shareef.
“Gergean is the same, it has become a special occasion that defines Ramadan for many of us. We grew up celebrating it and now we are teaching it to our children and passing it onto to the next generation,” she added.

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